GForces has seen 165 per cent increase in the number of car buyers willing to buy or reserve a car online using their software, month-on-month, in May.
Paul Stokes, head of ecommerce at GForces, spoke to James Baggott on Car Dealer Live today about how it’s not only that customers have changed their buying habits but they’re happy to spend more online with the average value of cars purchased up by 15 per cent to £16,500.
‘Things were changing pre-Covid, they have changed now and, let’s be honest, they’re not going to go back to how they were,’ Stokes said.
‘I don’t think we’re going to go back to how it was prior to the crisis. I think this is a paradigm shift in terms of the industry. People need to take a long hard look at the way they trade and put systems in place for that.’
An ecommerce platform has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have in the last month and, as Stokes added, this is ‘only going to increase as people become more aware that these solutions are out there in the marketplace’.
Stokes shared some insight into what’s working for GForces’ customers and how this shift to online car sales has meant dealerships are looking at how their whole business operates.
‘Live chat done well can support your business. Live chat done badly can mean you’ll probably never see that customer again,’ he said. Adding that a ‘fundamental’ is when live chat is surfaced in the consumer journey and ‘the competency behind that’.
But, as Baggott asked on the show, what does that mean for the traditional role of the sales person?
‘What we’re tending to find with our clients who are looking at online, is size-dependent; they’ll set up centralised teams who’ll work differently outside those traditional times,’ explained Stokes. ‘One customer very successfully has set it up so they work from 10 to 11pm at night.
‘They staff it with part-time individuals and allow remote-working, which I think is probably where we’re going to end up going in terms of having to man those extended hours when you don’t need to be in the dealership to have that interaction with the customer.
‘It’s all about speed of response. You’ve got to be able to give that response when the customer wants it so you can turn around that digital enquiry.’
He explained how research has shown that if you leave it more than 24 hours to respond to an enquiry, you’re unlikely to get through as someone will have got there before you.
Online retailing has also show that customers are happy to do the work themselves, as Stokes explained they’ve seen lots of ‘transactions where there is no interaction’
He said: ‘The customer freely goes onto the website, they browse, they’ve configured their own quotation, they’ve chosen certain extras in their shopping basket and they’ve undertaken their own finance application.
‘You think to yourself what type of person needs to deal with that customer once the transaction has taken place? I would say it’s probably not a salesperson, in the terms of the competencies a salesperson has because there’s no selling involved.’
The process is continuing to evolve, and Stokes stressed the importance of ‘keeping it simple for customers and taking away those barriers to purchase’ and to consider whether parts of add-on sales can be post purchase considerations.
GForces are continuing to make it easier for consumers, as Stokes explained: ‘We’ve enabled Apple Pay and Google Pay in the last five weeks and it’s staggering the transaction we’re starting to see with that.’
For more advice on how your online sales platform can perform better, watch the video in full now by clicking play at the top of this page.
Coming up next week on Car Dealer Live we also have:
- Monday: Cazana CEO Tom Wood and director of insights Rupert Pontin
- Tuesday: Hendy’s Paul Hendy
- Wednesday: Tom Hartley
- Thursday: SsangYong’s Nick Laird and Jim Tyrell
- Friday: Pendragon CEO Bill Berman
If you have any questions you’d like to ask any of the above you can submit them live during the broadcasts or you can send them to us via this website, or our social media channels including Twitter and LinkedIn.